Rusty Focus – 5 Cheap Ways To Stop It Dead


Rust is a word that can both encourage and scare in equal measure. If you’re on your way to buy a car and the seller mentions rust, lots will run a mile. If you take your car to a garage and ask them to sort out a rust hole, the garage may start reaching for the champagne, as you reach deep inside your pocket. But is rust as big a problem as we make it out to be? As with most things, it depends. I was fortunate enough to have a focus that isn’t too rusty. And after this, your car will have a cleaner bill of health too!

Actually, I’m being unfair. There was only one fairly noteworthy spot of rust on my car, and that’s along the base of the rear passenger door. It had not spread anywhere else and some anti corrosion spray and light sanding kept everything in order. Many cars can rust along the base of their doors so this is not unusual. I’m sure there is a welsh man somewhere who could write a song about this. No doubt some TV show called the X Voice or something will confirm or dispel that thought.

Rust soon comes off the discs when you apply the mighty focus brakes
Rust soon comes off the discs when you apply the ‘mighty’ focus brakes

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Surface Rust
There are two main types of rust that people talk about. There is surface rust, and actual, structural rust. When a car has been left sitting for some time, it is quite common for surface rust to form on the disc brakes. This normally disappears at the first application of the brakes, and sometimes you can hear a slight change in noise once the layer has been rubbed off. This noise is not to be confused with the metal-on-metal noise that occurs when someone is trying to stretch their brakes to the absolute limit. I really do advise against this. Brakes and tyres are two areas of the car I don’t condone saving too much money on, for obvious reasons. Crashes aren’t cheap.

Structural Rust
Structural rust is the one to really worry about, and anyone who seen an old abandoned car will be able to identify. The jagged edges where bits of the floor are missing. The thinned metal turned brown. All the stuff of nightmares. In many of those cases, the old bodywork must simply be cut out, and new metal must be cut and welded into place. I have had this done on my old BMW 3 Series, and it was not fun. I think the garage also accidentally set my car on fire. This was even less fun.

They did put out the fire, which was kind of them, but it did leave a black mark. I wouldn’t have minded this so much, except the car was silver. Therefore we must do all we can to prevent our cars from getting to this point. Here are some of the methods that I use on the Focus, which are inexpensive and definitely worthwhile. Small investments for big and long lasting gains.

That heat shield may take some convincing to be removed
That heat shield may take some convincing to be removed

My Tips
When I was riding bikes, I always made sure I had a can of anti-corrosion spray. Motorbikes are far more exposed than cars, making them more vulnerable to the elements. A spray and a rub down every so often kept the metal metal-coloured and the rust stayed away. Or in the case of bikes that already had rust, it didn’t advance. When I sold the bikes, I kept the spray and started using it on the underside of the car. The bottle cost about a tenner or so, and lasted my two years.

Not too much rust on this focus, considering the age
Not too much rust on this focus, considering the age

The underside of my Focus looks like one that is about ten years younger. I have repeatedly had comments from garages telling me how good condition the underside is. Body work is not quite as good as the car has had a few knocks. But the important stuff is in great nick. I’m in the process of pulling off the same trick with the Mondeo, hopefully. My 5 main tips would be:

Take a rust spray everywhere.
Just leave it in the boot. A quick 5 mins for the exposed suspension arms front and rear has really done wonders. I see cars much younger than me with suspension that is fully brown, and I feel that the problem is so easily solved, or at least minimised. The rust spray does not need to be expensive. I often use lemon juice, which is great at attacking rust. Vinegar is similarly effective, although bear in mind the respective aromas that you will be left with if using these in your car’s interior.

Cleaning the dirt off quickly
Don’t give rust a chance in the first place and make sure there are fewer opportunities for corrosion to start. If you drive through somewhere muddy, when you get home get out the scrubber, pronto.

Don’t wash too often
I’m taking about the car, rather than suggesting a reduction in personal hygiene. Initially, leaving a car dirty may sound counter intuitive. But reduced water exposure really can pay off means less opportunity for rust to start.

Park Under Shelter
Appreciate that not everybody has this luxury. But if we’re able to park in a garage, or under shelter when it’s raining then we should, and it should mean reduced exposure or risk for our cars externals.

Slow Down
Driving slower in the rain is obviously better for safety, but also reduces tyre spray, so the water may not spread as much on the car’s underside. Avoid large puddles if possible for this reason. Narrower wheels and tyres can mean less spray, reduced aquaplaning and reduced cost of replacement. This may sound like I’m going against the cost saving point from earlier. But as long as the actual tyre is a good brand/model, this should not be an issue for most drivers.

A little bit of effort can go a really long way. We take care of our cars, and they take care of us. Do you have any neat/cheap tricks you use to keep the rust at bay? Do you have any other tips for keeping the structure of the car is good condition for the years to come? If you’re after any more tips, get in contact, give us a call. We would be more than happy to help, and we can find you your ideal car (which will be not too rusty!) in record time. Thanks for reading!

What are your thoughts?